Harrigan hits out at NRL coaches - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Harrigan hits out at NRL coaches

By Ian McCullough 25/05/2009 07:32:43 PM Comments (0)

Former NRL and State of Origin referee Bill Harrigan has accused coaches of having double standards and says officials are on a hiding to nothing.

Harrigan, who now works as a video referee in addition to being assistant to NRL referees coach Robert Finch, said the criticism aimed at Matt Cecchin after his decision to award Gold Coast a last-minute penalty against Manly on Sunday was unfair.

"I cannot see why they are having a whinge about inexperienced referees .. in that game you had a Manly rookie player (Tony Williams) dropping the ball over the line instead of scoring the try and nothing is said," Harrigan told AAP.

"Then you get a referee blowing for a player being taken out, which we in our camp felt was a close decision, and then you get Manly jumping up and down saying he was the junior referee and he has made a bad blue.

"These things happen, you can't blame the rookie player (for losing the game), you have to give him some leeway ... and it is the same with the referee. One who has reffed between one and 10 games is going to ref differently to one who has reffed 150."

Harrigan also said the men in the middle are "damned if they do, damned if they don't" when it comes to using the video referee to make decisions.

"The referees have been on a hiding to nothing when it comes to a referral ... if they don't and it's a wrong decision they get smashed, and when they do, they get criticised for going upstairs too much," he said.

"An example of that was a round one game in Brisbane when there was little knock-on in dummy half, the referees backed themselves but got it wrong ... so then they (the coaches) jump up and down for not using the video referee.

"When they do use the video ref, people say they are sick and tired of them using it all the time ... they are in a no-win situation."

Harrigan also said he fears the current scrutiny on referees is seeing many turn their backs on officiating at lower grade levels.

"I don't think the respect for referees is there as much as it was back in the past but that is a society thing," he said.

"There is a shortage of referees coming into the game and there are some ... where they don't have enough referees to man their games each weekend.

"And that is happening because of the verbal and physical criticism that is happening to those blokes in park football.

"If they are not attracted to it then it is reducing the numbers coming through and that will impact at the top end in years to come."

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